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Departments: Telephone Services

Volume 461: debated on Wednesday 6 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many telephone helplines are sponsored by her Department with the prefix (a) 0870 and (b) 0845; and whether alternative geographic numbers are available in each case. (138484)

The Department’s main public facing telephone inquiry service, the Customer Service Centre, has a geographic number (020 7210 4850). The Department also uses a Government wide switchboard service (020 27210 3000). There are individual switchboard services for the Department’s main buildings and these have geographic telephone numbers.

The Department’s Executive Agencies, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Service (MHRA) and the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency (PASA) also have geographic numbers.

The Department has a Healthy Start (formerly known as the Welfare Foods Helpline), a service operated under contract to provide assistance to nurseries and individuals with inquiries about welfare foods e.g. milk tokens. The numbers for members of the public are 0845 6076833/6076823. The numbers for commercial providers are 08707 203063/201688. These will be reviewed as part of the contract review in 2008.

NHS Direct uses a 0845 number 0845 4647. There is no geographic alternative.

The Department grant funds a wide range of voluntary and charitable organisations to provide services relating to health and healthy living. Some of these organisations include telephone helplines as part of their services. It is not possible, without incurring disproportionate cost, to identify individual projects with telephones services and whether geographic telephone numbers are used.